NCL Star Lam FamWe just got back from our seven day Mexican Riviera cruise with Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL).  I have to say I was quite nervous cruising with a 14.5 month toddler. We did travel with my in-laws, which was TONS of help!  They actually bought this trip for us!

It was my first time on a Norwegian boat.  I didn’t have high expectations since my husband has cruised with them before and he didn’t think it was as good as others we have been on.  It actually wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. The shows and activities were on point and very enjoyable!  The food wasn’t as bad as I’ve read in online reviews.  But they do not change it up much and for seven days, one can get really tired of it!

Here are a few things I’d like to share as a first time mom cruising with a toddler:


{Packing for our vacation}

  • Diapers & Wipes. It doesn’t hurt to pack extra!  You never know if your little one’s (LO) stomach will agree with the food he/she consumes on the trip.  The NCL have diapers and wipes for purchase but it’s a ridiculous cost of $24/pack of diapers (all sizes) and $5/pack of 12 wipes. We brought two 29-pack of size 4 diapers and three travel size packs of wipes.
  • Poo diaper bags. We forgot these and would have come in handy!
  • Medication.  Our LO has been weaned of breast milk for two months now and noticed he can catch a cold easily!  So I wanted to be prepared.  NCL has a gift shop but do not sell Infant medication (only children’s medication for 2 years old+)!  Be sure to have everything you need just to be safe!  I brought:
    • TriViSol vitamin drops (he takes this every morning)
    • Infant Acetaminophen
    • Vicks Baby Rub
    • NoseFrida (aspirator)
    • thermometer
    • infant saline nose drops
    • gripe water/gas drops
    • ginger pills (helped my husband to avoid sea sickness)
    • sea bands (alternative to sea sick medication or pills)
  • Bath Towel & Wash Cloths.  One thing we wish we brought was a pool towel hoodie/robe.  It would have been nice to have him in one while sitting out on the deck while eating lunch after we went swimming.
  • Inflatable Bath tub. We wish we had brought a tub or a bath tub liner! (explanation below)
  • Swimming Diapers. We brought one per day.
  • Sunblock!
  • Pool Floaties.  We actually forgot to bring his float and realized it when we actually tried to go in the main pool.
  • Burp Cloths or bibs.  We do not usually use burp cloths at home anymore but I’m glad I brought some.
  • Clothes. (duh!)
    • We brought our compression packer bags to stuff our clothes in.  We didn’t want to travel with a ton of luggages. We were able to pack one large rolling luggage, a duffle bag, and a diaper backpack for the week!

    packing for a cruise

    • There is an optional formal night where guests wear their formal attire.  They set up photo booth back drops starting on the second day within the Atrium deck for everyone to take pictures.  It was fun dressing up and our LO was center of attention wherever we went that evening.

NCL Formal night

  • Big brim hat. Shawn has a Quicksilver hat we bought for our Hawaii trip and love it.  It shaded his face and neck better than other hats he has.
  • Stroller.  We made a mistake and left our Uppababy Vista and brought a light weight stroller without an umbrella! When we got to Cabo, Shawn was so hot! If you bring a lightweight stroller, make sure there is an umbrella/shade cover attached.
  • Carrier. We brought our Ergo but didn’t use it at all.  Our LO recently learned how to walk so he doesn’t like to be in the Ergo anymore but wanted to bring it in case we did need it.
  • Pillow case & blanket.  We did bring a pillow case to put over one of the pillows provided in our stateroom because our LO sleeps better with his pillow (I think he likes the smell of his detergent).  We also brought one of his Aden + Anais blankets since it was lightweight and larger than his other blankets.
  • Sippy Cups.  We brought a straw sippy cup for water and a take and toss sippy cup for his milk.
  • Antibacterial gel & hand wipes.  The cruise ship is filled with antibacterial dispensers and crew members with spray bottles standing at the entrance and exits of the buffet and restaurants.   I brought a travel bottle and wipes for when we were out in Mexico.
  • Passport. Suggestions from other mommies that cruised and/or traveled to Mexico, we opted to get our LO a passport.  Mexico only requires a birth certificate but, again, it’s better to be safe than sorry!
  • Bottled water.  Bring a case of water and slap a luggage tag on the case! It will be sent up to your stateroom. The cups at the buffet are so small, you’ll need 5+ cups to bring up to your stateroom to be content for a nights worth.  We brought a 24 pack and ended up finishing the entire case.  They also allow you to bring soda (as long as they are sealed).
  • Walkie Talkies. These come in handy when your party have split up on the boat.
  • Toys. We brought Woody from Toy Story, a small Mickey Mouse doll and a Leap Frog cell phone toy.
  • iPad. We bought our iPad loaded with his favorite movies to keep him occupied when we were getting ready in the room.

{Helpful tips}

  • Embarkation. Holy cow! It’s a mad house!  Even though you check in online, you will need to stand in line to check in again.  This is because they will take your picture and give you your room key (which also serves as your credit card and to embark/disembark to/from ports).  Plan to also wait in another line to board the ship  Once you check in, be sure to ask where to wait and if you need a number to go in.  We weren’t given a number but was told to wait in the back.  We interpreted this as “wait in the back of the embarkation line” to board the ship.  Once we got to the front of the line, a crew member asked us for a slip with a number on it.  We didn’t have one and a few other cruisers behind us didn’t either.  Needless to say, people were upset.  They had us wait in the waiting area until “general” boarding was called.  I don’t think going early will help because they don’t let you on the ship until a certain time in the afternoon. See embarkation times on your edocs. Bring snacks, water and/or milk, and toys or an iPad for the LO to help entertain them while waiting.
  • Standard staterooms.  Each room has:
    • a mini fridge. We took out all the contents since there are no sensors and filled them up with the water bottles we brought.
    • two small beds pushed together to make a queen size bed. We pushed the beds to the corner of the room that way our LO won’t fall off the bed in the middle of the night.
    • a tv.
    • extra comforters. (we didn’t need these)
    • a closet and drawers.
    • a hair dryer.
    • a bathroom. The shower has the hand held shower head that will be so helpful to give your LO a bath!  Bring some sort of inflatable tub or tub mat.  We used a towel and placed it on the floor of the shower to give our LO a bath.

    NCL stateroom bathroom

    • a clothes line in the shower. We hung our wet swimming suit/shorts on this to dry.
    • an extra bunk that you can pull down from the wall.
    • a vanity.
    • a small table and a chair.
  • Baby Changing bathrooms.  We only found one on the boat, which was next to the buffet. The first two days, I carried around the diaper bag with diapers, wipes and a change of clothes.  But we found that bringing the LO back to our stateroom for diaper changes was more convenient since there was only one bathroom with a changing station.
  • Food.
    • Small milk cartons (whole, 2% and chocolate) are only out during breakfast.  We would take two cartons up to our fridge to give our LO if he wanted milk before or after his afternoon naps/bedtime.  They also have a milk machine that is accessible all day.
    • Bananas, cereal and yogurt are only out during breakfast. We took one a day to our room for emergency snacks.
    • Cheerios: we brought a box or two up to our room.  We brought these to the shows, in case the LO gets bored and fussy and needed some kind of distraction.
    • If your LO has any allergies, be sure to contact the cruise company to try to accommodate your family.
    • We filled up our LO’s straw sippy cup with water and ice whenever we passed by the buffet.
  • Kids’ Activities. They offer activities and a play room for LOs 6 months – 3 years old (they call this age group “Guppies”)! I thought they only offered these programs for older kids. When you first get into your stateroom, they provide an itinerary based on your LO’s age.  We were able to join in on the group activities when Shawn was not napping. There are usually two group activities a day.  The play room is accessible all day with toys, books, and a paper taped on the wall for the LOs to color on. It was nice to take Shawn in there and chat with other parents and tire the kids out before their naps!

Guppies Playroom

  • No babysitting services.  Fortunately, we had my husband’s parents with us so they were able to watch the LO a couple times that week in the evenings. It gave my husband and I a chance to enjoy a late show or the ship’s night entertainment.
  • Kids’ pool.  This pool was located in the back of the ship.  The Norweign Star’s kids’ pool has one hot tub, a small pool with a baby slide, a main pool, two larger kids’ slides, and two showers.  If you don’t plan to disembark the ship at the ports, these pools are empty! We were able to have the pool to ourselves during one of the ports.

Kids Pool

  • Dining rooms.  The NCL does not have set dining times like other cruise ships I’ve been on.  They have a bunch of smaller dining rooms and allow you to go at your own schedule (some restaurants you have to pay for and some you don’t).  They have televisions throughout the ship to display how fast the dining rooms are filling up to help you schedule out your evening.  Out of the seven nights, we only dined in these restaurants three times.  High chairs are available.
  • Port days. I wanted to make sure our LO ate a big breakfast on the boat before going down to the ports.  It also helped that his poo schedule was still on his normal schedule and he was able to do his duty before leaving the ship!  You cannot take food off the ship but we did take a sealed water bottle or two down with us. Cheerios would of helped too but we didn’t bring any.
  • Poopie diapers.  One thing we forgot were the little blue scented bags for poopie diapers.  The housekeeping’s schedule is usually in the morning (9am-ish) and during dinner hours (5-6pm-ish).  So when our house keeper was in the hallway, we threw out the poopie diapers in her larger trash bag.
  • Sick toddler. Yep, Shawn caught a cold the last three days of the cruise! I guess it’s inevitable since he started walking, touching everything that he passes by, and sharing toys with other kids at the Guppies’ play room.  It was also very hot at Cabo and when we got back on the ship, the air conditioning was on blast.  Luckily we brought medicine, saline drops, an aspirator, and Vicks babyrub.  I wish we had a humidifier! But my husband did the next best thing, he turned on the shower and let the bathroom heat up and held our LO in there for a few minutes.
  • Disembarkation. We opted to do the scheduled disembarkation, where they collect your luggage the night before and you choose the time you would like to pick up your luggage at the port (colored luggage tags are provided).  We were able to enjoy breakfast at the buffet for the last time and not worry about lugging around luggage around the boat.  Once the captain announces the luggage tag color, we were able to disembark the boat, go through customs, and pick up our luggage at the port.  It was much smoother than the embarkation process.

 

It was such a fun trip! Seven days on a boat felt really long with a LO, especially when the last three days he wasn’t feeling 100%.  Cruises are such a great vacation idea when traveling with children because there are so many activities they can do on the boat and there’s unlimited food!

Big THANK YOUs to my in-laws for the wonderful trip they planned for us.  We are excited for more trips in the future but with two kids! yikes.

Traveling with Grandparents

BABY.. but it’s a GIRL!  Looks like we are adding a daughter to our little family in July!  We are so excited and I’m getting a little anxiety thinking about caring for two little ones.  I know there are tons of parents that have gone through it so we can do it too! Trying to stay positive and I know it will be worth it.

Here is our gender announcement.  This time, my husband and I knew the gender of our baby and just had a photo shoot done with only our son.  It took a couple tries to have all the balloons pop out of the box and a couple cookies to have Shawn look at the camera.  It was fun.  Here’s a tip:  always schedule photo shoots at their happiest moods in the day.  We did this after my husband and cousin got off work.. bad idea!  Shawn was so tired and cranky by this time of the day.

The gender announcement from our first pregnancy was a surprise for the both of us {see blog post here}.  Big thanks to my cousin Jeremey for always helping us out with pictures for our family!  We love you!

baby

I am not good at this blogging thing. But in all reality, there wasn’t enough time to blog. Yes, I’m a first time mom – a first time stay-at-home mom (SAHM). A first time wife.  I still have LOTS to learn.

Life turns around 360 degrees when a new life pops out of your body.  Sacrifice.  After discussing it with my husband, we were able to have me become a SAHM.  No, I did not leave a career that I loved.  It was a job.  I did my time and collected my paycheck every two weeks. However, I think I found the career that I absolutely love – being a mother.  Yes, we lost the income I used to earn but this is the time I can’t take back with my son.  It’s priceless.  Pre-wedding, we sacrificed our old habits – shopping, going out, etc. but we just continued this sacrifice when we found out we were pregnant.

Our son is 10 months old as of today.  I sit here in bed with my son laying next to me as I type this, listening to Disney Lullaby music.  Yes, we co-sleep from time to time.  Who am I kidding?  We co-sleep everyday.  He starts in the crib and by wee hours in the morning, he is in bed with us!  It’s all good, we love this little booger.

It’s pretty nuts how people can be quick to judge on parenting decisions.  I’m guilty of it.  Prior to being pregnant and actually having Shawn, I swore to myself that I wouldn’t do certain things I’ve seen on TV, or from friends with children, or even from strangers who are out with their kids in public.  Now that I’m 10 months in, the “Ahhh I see” light bulb turns on annnnd that’s why they choose to do that with their children.

Prime example, I went to Buy Buy Baby to buy baby food for our trip to Hawaii because I didn’t want to carry on homemade pureed food on the plane and risk spoilage.  Another mom was also shopping for baby food and started small talk with me and said, “All the greens (veggies) are gone.”  I replied, “Yeah, must be popular.  I usually make my own but I want to try these out for our trip to Hawaii.”  Other mom, “Oh, I totally stopped making my little ones food a couple months ago.  It took to much time.”  I smirked and thought to myself, “Heh, I’ll never stop making my baby’s food.”  Here I am now feeding my son baby food from the store.  More power to those parents who continue feeding their babies homemade food.  Again, there is no right or wrong way to raise a kid. As long as it works for you and your little one.

I had set high expectations for myself when I was pregnant to do things this way and that way because it’s what the books, blogs, and emails from various baby websites recommended.  I finally learned, there isn’t a right or wrong way to raise your kid.  Every family, every baby is different.  Suggestions from these sources are great but if it doesn’t work for our little one, then we try something that does work for us.  Today, my husband reminded me something that the instructor of our Child Birth class from Kaiser  said: “Only you and your husband will know your child(ren) the best, no matter how much experience grandparents, nannies, babysitters, or teachers have. YOU know them the best. ”  It was refreshing to hear that again cause now that Shawn is older, it is true.  We know his cues and we know what works for him, even if it doesn’t work for our friends’ children or my cousins’ children.

We have lots to learn.  We are not perfect parents but the only way to strive to be GREAT parents is to experience it and to learn the ropes as our child(ren) grow.

lam fam bates nut farm

Geez. Who would of thought that baby gear is like shopping for a car.  We did lots of research for a stroller and a diaper bag! Well, I should say that I did a lot of research on strollers and diaper bags.

Since I was pregnant and left my job, I had a lot of time looking up baby products online.  Surprisingly, diaper bags was one I kept going back and forth on.  I couldn’t really decide so I just registered for a JJ Cole Mode Tote Bag.  It served its purpose in the beginning of my child’s life but now I pack a little more since my son likes to spit up and poo up his back! haha.

For Mother’s Day, my husband surprised me with the Petunia Pickle Bottom Boxy Backpack in Champs Elysees Stop.  I have been ranting and raving to him that I wanted this bag since I was pregnant but when I actually had in my hands, it was not as practical as I wanted it to be.

PPB Boxy BackpackPros:

  • Gorgeous Bag
  • Backpack and messenger strap options
  • Magnetic Closure
  • Color and design is not as loud as other patterns available

Cons:

  • Narrow and deep – I have to dig and take everything out if something is at the bottom of the bag.
  • No room for any of mom or dad’s stuff (i.e., wallet, cell phone, etc.)
  • Side pockets are not wide enough
  • I was afraid to get the bag dirty and mess up the stitching on the bag

I really wanted to keep this bag but I’m an over packer.  I want to make sure I have everything I need for every situation.

So, the other bag on my wishlist is the Ju Ju Be – Be Prepared Diaper Bag.  So I exchanged the PPB Boxy Backpack for this bag!  I chose the plain black/silver color that way my husband can carry it around too, without worrying about the girly feel too it.

Ju Ju Be Be Prepared

Pros:

  • Spacious!
  • Zippers open down the sides for more access
  • Front pocket serves as mom or dad pocket to store wallet, phones, etc.
  • Machine washable
  • Magnetic flaps on the bottle pockets

Cons:

  • Heavy without items inside
  • Side pockets that store the changing pad and snacks are buttons and hard to snap back closed. Wish they were magnetic as well.
  • Bulky but I bought it for the room.

The Ju Ju Be BFF is the smaller version of this bag and is a better everyday diaper bag.

I’m back! Let’s say I’ve been busssssy.  A lot has happen since my last post!

Quick recap:

  • We bought a house back in November 2012
  • new homeand gave birth to my beautiful son, Shawn Xander, on 01.13.13!
    shawn xander

Being a mother has been so amazing!  The love you have for this little human being is hard to describe to someone who has not had a baby yet.  I remember when my best friend had her son… I fell in LOVE with him.  But it’s definitely a different love when you have one of your own!

After giving birth to Shawn, my husband said he has a better appreciation for women!  Ain’t that the truth. The night we had him, we could not sleep.  We stared at him all night/morning! Being a new mom, made me appreciate my mom more.  You don’t realize what your parents went through until you become a parent.  We still have lots to learn and have a lot more obstacles to go through with our son.  I don’t think anyone can be “ready” to have a child but to just dive in. haha!  I was always back and forth on what I wanted to be when I “grow up”.  But one thing for sure, I knew I always wanted to be a mom!

This is the most priceless gift my husband can ever give me. We are blessed! We are having a BOY!

At our sonogram appointment, we asked the technician to not tell us our baby’s gender.  We brought her a piece of paper and envelope to write down this information.

My sister took the envelope and went to Party City to fill up the box I painted with either teal balloons for a boy or purple balloons for a girl.  We wanted to stay away from the traditional blue and pink.  At this point, she was the only one who knew the gender of our baby.  We then had our awesome photographer cousin, J Amante, take our gender announcement photos at Balboa Park.

Photo: J Amante


Now the naming process begins..

We have wonderful news! We are expecting!! We both wanted to get pregnant right after the wedding, and BAM! We did. Here is my little “Gummy Bear”:

So… that’s why I haven’t posted anything in awhile.  This week ends my first trimester and it’s exciting! I feel good. No morning sickness. I’m eating. A lot. I sleep. A lot. Life is wonderful!

A doctor once told me that I won’t be able to have kids.  I’m truly blessed and what a miracle this really is.

I’m already planning the baby shower and what crafts I can get started!  Stay tuned.

Just like my wedding dress, I fell in love with these bridesmaid dresses in a magazine.  Of course I shopped  around but in the end I gravitated back to this dress.

My thought process on picking thee bridesmaid dresses:

  1. Need to find something they MIGHT wear again (i.e., to another “formal event”)
  2. No shiny materials
  3. Not long and not too short (my sister calls me a grandma cause I love the knee length/50’s look)
  4. Simple and cute

So this dress fit all of my criteria and they all looked beautiful that day:

Photos: Bauman Photographers

  • Designer: Lela Rose
  • Style Number: LR140XX
  •  Fabric: Matte side of Renaissance Satin
  • Details: One shoulder cocktail length with cascade ruffle and pockets at side seams of skirt. Matching self belt at natural waist
  • Color: Wisteria
  • Various alterations: take in bust and waist, shorten length. tighten belt

Thank you to the ladies at The White Dress for helping me and my sister/MOH out with the fitting and order!

Thank you to my Bridesmaids for putting this dress on for me.  You all looked so beautiful!!!

I love this dress so much, I almost ordered one for myself.  However, I just found out my bridesmaid, Claire (soon to be bride), is letting her bridesmaid choose their own dresses.  So guess what?! I’m gonna order this dress in her color! Score!

Just got home from Michaels. I think I got carried away at the store.  I’m promising myself to scrapbook recent events soon after it has happened. I have so much memorabilia from 2 year ago that I have to include in our Adventure Book.  So my mission these next few weeks: our Honeymoon scrapbook!

Wish me luck!

I love old school cars.  I want to own one someday. *sigh*

I knew this would be a must have for our wedding.  One of my husband’s tasks was to find us one.  And I fell in love with this 1937 Packard!

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Photos: Bauman Photographers

Thank you to Classic Limos and our chauffeur, Eugene!

Photo above: Daniel